And like that
the door opened without a click
pushing aside the shifting straw curtain
his shadow entered
followed by the man with his mane
of dark hair
a young man with
they took their places at the head of his bed
(the shadow quietly folded itself away
between the sink and the bedpans)
and with the stance of a Trappist-to-be
he declared: "The time has come.
"My time has come?" he trembled.
"That's what I said," he added
like a professional phantom.
"Where are we going, do you really know the way?"
"We are taking you there." He fell silent.
"Can I ask a question?"
(The swine!) "Let me take a towel,
some soap, a book?"
"Unnecessary. Anyone who enters
comes out as he went in."
At once he turned
to leave. As he went out,
trailing after him came his smell, his shadow
and his dread.II. THE CORRIDOR
He fell asleep under strange skies
He fell asleep under strange skies.
the neo-renaissance style
of New York Hospital. Outside
the last thing his eyes took in
three chimneys a crematorium
a red-tiled roof at the back
the medical center,
a world of vanished routines,
your home and your rooms suddenly emptied
of yesterday's light.
Excerpted from Sloan-Kettering by Abba Kovner. Copyright © 2002 by Abba Kovner. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.